Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 6/11/2020


Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling.


Craig Edwards: First, let me say that while I’m happy to take draft questions, you should definitely read what Eric Longenhagen had to say about last night.


Craig Edwards: There’s also a widget in that piece that can you send you to all of our draft coverage this year.


Craig Edwards: As for what I’ve been up to, here’s my piece on the player proposal that MLB hasn’t responded to yet.…


Craig Edwards: And here’s a couple pieces on the MLB offer.…


Craig Edwards: This one looks at individual team gains and losses.…


Dave: I heard Steve Phillips say on MLB radio this morning that the Braves lost 32 million last year.  I remember a story you wrote that said they had a 150 million dollar profit the last two years.  Who is correct?


Craig Edwards: I guess we both are. The Braves have made $150 million over the last two seasons when you consider how much cash they received compared to their revenue. The 32 million loss figure comes from depreciation as baseball teams can depreciate the purchase price of the club over the next 15 years. If you want to know how much a team made compared to what they spent, which is the information I would want to know, use the $150 M figure (54 M in 2019, 94 M in 2018).


Craig Edwards: Here’s the piece I wrote on it and it has a link to the Braves financial disclosures that you can take a look for yourself.


Cleveland Spiders: Manfred mentioned something about a March proposal for a season start date, as well as some other things. Mind catching those who have tuned out of the labor negotiations up to speed?


Craig Edwards: Back in March, the players and owners agreed to a deal on the potential resumption of the season. Under that agreement the players would be paid pro-rata pay and MLB would provide the schedule for the season. The owners have since tried to renegotiate that deal asking the players to take less pay. Those negotiations are still ongoing, though Manfred and MLB believe that even without a new deal, they can impose a roughly 50-game schedule with pro-rated salaries. If true, they could do this for 60, 70, or 80 games as well.


Craig Edwards: If you want to get fully caught up, feel free to read the links the beginning of this chat as well the stuff in this twitter thread.


Craig Edwards


The MLB owners’ new offer isn’t an improvement over the last one.
Even compared to a 48-game season with pro-rated salaries, the owners would receive $750 million more in regular season revenue while guaranteeing the players $250 million less.…
8 Jun 2020

Pumpsie Green: Any initial reports on viewing numbers for round one of the draft last night, either on Fangraphs or elsewhere? Wondering if people are starved for any kind of live sports coverage or if they are completely engulfed in their streaming service.


Craig Edwards: I haven’t seen them, yet. Guessing they will be released this afternoon at some point.


Dave: I really hate the idea of 16 teams making the playoffs the next two years.  Once that happens what are the chances the number of teams ever decrease?


Craig Edwards: It will definitely have to be renegotiated. I like the idea of more playoff teams in a short season because there’s more randomness to the season this year and I wouldn’t want good teams to miss out on the playoffs just because they had a small run of bad luck.


Craig Edwards: As for future years, I like the current format. I really like the winner take all wild card game. It’s a great start to the playoffs. I wouldn’t mind seeing the leagues go back to two divisions with five teams per league in the playoffs, but once the league expands and we likely go to four divisions, expanding the playoffs is inevitable.


Craig Edwards: Way back in March, I proposed a round-robin at the end of the season I thought would be fun for this year.


Craig Edwards: My concern with expanded playoffs is devaluing the regular season.


thelaundry: Before the current negotiations about the 2020 season, I had little hope that the players/MLBPA would be able to successfully take on the owners in the next CBA. Over the last 20-25 years, the owners have made more & more and the players have gotten less and less. Does the current situation make you think the players will be more unified, vocal and resolute in the next negotiation with management?


Craig Edwards: They certainly seem much more unified than I’ve seen in recent years. The owners have helped greatly in that situation by offering deals that aren’t really appetizing at all.  I don’t think we really saw a huge shift in player share until the last half decade or so. But the players have definitely noticed and want to do something about it.


who me: Is Meyer a 45+ FV due to relief risk caused by a still to be developed 3rd pitch? His first two, slider and fastball, look pretty good.


Craig Edwards: This is part of Eric’s capsule on Meyer:


Craig Edwards: Meyer’s stuff and command has backed up later in starts and he doesn’t have a fully formed starter’s mix yet, but he’s arguably the best athlete among college starters in this class.


Craig Edwards: Keep in mind a 50 means basically one of the top 125 prospects in the game.


Guest: Thoughts on the Boston first rounder pick?


Craig Edwards: It depends on what happens with the rest of the draft. They obviously didn’t take the best player available so they need to make up for that with higher-money players on later picks. It’s a strategy that can work, but it has to make sense.


Craig Edwards: I wrote a piece on how teams did last year. looking for it now.


Matt: As a Vandy fan, I can’t wait to see Austin Martin in the bigs. What percentage of his agreed-upon salary will the Blue Jays attempt to stiff him of in 2022?


Craig Edwards: He’ll still be getting bonus money in 2022 since players only receive 100k this season.


Dave: I understand the owners fears about playing into November.  However, the virus has shut down Hollywood so there won’t be any original programming on the networks.  The baseball playoffs could be in prime time the entire month of November.  Seems like that would be a huge thing for baseball.


Craig Edwards: That’s one thing I don’t entirely understand. MLB is saying the networks prefer to keep the schedule the same, but if the NBA and NHL are finishing up in early October, it would seem to make sense to push it back a little.


Craig Edwards: If owners are worried about losing that postseason money altogether, then it would make sense to keep things on schedule, but if the players are saying we want to play in November, saying they are worried about player safety makes little sense.


Steven: Maybe weather is the worry about pushing it back?


Craig Edwards: I think there is something to this, but that’s all the more reason to negotiate a neutral site postseason location, maybe even one that is allowing fans.


Grandpaboy: I’m super-bummed that the Cubs missed out on Abel. Sell me on Ed Howard:


Craig Edwards: They are rated very close together, so going with the position player who can stick at shortstop seems like a much more sure thing. A lot can happen in the next 3-5 years as these guys get close to the majors, but the odds of Howard becoming something in the majors is probably a bit better than Abel.


Michael: I already asked Dan, so ignore if you want….but is it possible existing minor league players get more coaching/attention, given the shorter draft, and that helps them in a way?


Craig Edwards: In theory, fewer minor leaguers would mean more individual instruction, but fewer minor league teams might just mean more players playing at a complex not actually getting more individualized instruction.


Max Scherzer: Am I wrong to demand that the owners open their books to public scrutiny before the players should consider giving up another penny?


Craig Edwards: If you want to argue that the players need to renegotiate their salaries as part of a good faith discussion on economic feasibility, it would seem open records would be very necessary to make that determination. Without it, a good faith discussion isn’t really possible.


Chris: Did Blue Jays have the draft of the night landing Martin? No way he should have landed there


Craig Edwards: I think they did well to get the player many considered the best or second best prospect in the draft at five.


Craig Edwards: If you compare rankings on the BOARD to pick numbers, a lot of teams did well as others opted for a different strategy. We’ll have to see how that plays out today.…


Pumpsie Green: Awesome work on cutting through the rhetoric to get to the true crux of negotiations! In the end, all either side really cares about is the money. It seems they’re $200-300 million apart, correct? Lots of ways to bridge that gap, too.


Craig Edwards: Thanks. I said this on twitter when I posted my article.


Craig Edwards


Owner Options
A (No deal): pay players $1.36 B for 54 games.
B (player offer): pay players $2.2 B for 89 games, get $300M-$500M in expanded playoff tv rights, avoid billion dollar grievance for violating March deal.
A and B are closer than they might seem.…
10 Jun 2020

Craig Edwards: Expanded tv rights is big. No grievance is big. For some teams, more games is actually better. And in terms of PR, more games looks a lot better.


mcgiveittome: As a Twins fan I like the idea of drafting a college bat. With, at best, limited activities this season and almost assuredly no season in 2022 it seems like developing pitchers from this and next year’s draft will be even more difficult than it already is, no?


Craig Edwards: That’s hard to say. One of the most important thing for developing as a hitter is to continually increase your competition level. It’s obviously good for pitchers to face good competition, but there are some things in terms delivery that don’t require the same level of games. I’m not sure there’s a correct answer, but I’m not sure I see any reason to deviate from taking the best player possible regardless of position.


Alex Crisafulli: They’re different players, at different stages of their career, different injury history, etc., but with Jack Flaherty being very public in his displeasure with MLB owners, should Cardinals fans be worried he’ll get Pham’d?


Craig Edwards: I don’t think so. There’s a worry that he might leave in free agency, but that’s still four years away. If Flaherty is still pitching well over the next three seasons and the Cardinals are winning, I don’t see a trade for dimes on the dollar happening.


Pumpsie Green: The DeWitt family seems to have done alright investing in baseball over the past 70 years or so, but maybe my definition of ‘very profitable’ is different from theirs. What else could we suggest they get into that would rise to their standard of profitability? Drugs and casinos come to mind, although – cartels and the mafia. Maybe revive the ivory trade? Really, though, find something other than baseball, please. There are plenty of other places to invest.


Craig Edwards: Rob Mains had a piece in Baseball Pro saying essentially he would be hauled off to prison if he promised the type of return Dewitt has received from the Cardinals.


Craig Edwards: Even ignoring franchise value, it’s not like the Cardinals aren’t doing extremely well. The big problem with claims like these is that they are made without any evidence. If you want me to believe you, back it up with evidence.


Craig Edwards: and that’s the point John Fleming makes here:…


Steven: How do you view single season records if there was a 50 game season?


Craig Edwards: I just wouldn’t consider them. We are talking about 200 PA or so for batters and maybe 60 innings for starters. It’s going to be fun to look at some of these stats, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pretend like it means the same thing as a standard full season.


Bob: Well, I lost my job permanently in baseball over this, so I’ve grown very indifferent and very jilted either way. Don’t work in what you grew up loving, kids


Craig Edwards: I’m sorry to hear that. I would still encourage people to follow their dreams. You might be more likely to end in heartbreak, but you’ll also pursue what you are doing with more passion than if you took a safe route. Not getting to do what you’ve dreamed of is an awful feeling, but wondering whether you could have if you had just tried will linger on much longer.


Dave: I know you’re very much pro-player.  But if I’m the owners I make an offer for a 10% cut on pro-rated salaries (5% total salary for year) with 75% to start and 15% after WS is played and tell the players to take it or leave it.  There is a reason that there March agreement asked for negotiations if fans were not allowed in the stands and I can’t see any Labor judge in the USA siding with the players on any kind of grievance.


Craig Edwards: Let’s assume over 76 games. For the regular season, you are paying players $1.435 M with $287 M coming in the postseason. In a 54-game set, players receive $1.359 M. Is is worth $66 M more in guarantees to play 22 more games at an 88% pay cut from pro-rated pay? The $287 million is more than the expanded postseason tv rights you have to give away to make a deal. Maybe you don’t win a grievance, but it’s possible the grievance centers more on the good faith part of the whole negotiations than on the final offer. I’m just not sure that is going to be enough incentive not to just have MLB say play 50 games or so.


Patrick: Does fangraphs have the team stats against RvL and LVR?


Craig Edwards: Yes. they are on the splits leaderboards. Here’s team RvL.,4&spl…


Patrick: Do you have team stats for KBO.  Teams batting avg.  RvL, LvR, LvL, and RvR


Craig Edwards: For that, we do not. Here’s our KBO Leaderboard page:


Lorenzo: Will the fact that SP would only get about 10 starts mean that we are more likely to see closers win the Cy Young awards this season?


Craig Edwards: Maybe. Is 60 innings versus 30 innings in a shortened season different from 180 innings versus 60 innings. The gap closes slightly, though I think I would still lean toward the starter.


Dave: Why do you think that no one else in the media questions the owners over their finances.  They just say they are going to lose money and no challenges them on it.


Craig Edwards: There’s lot of different ways to “lose” money and certainly owners are going to receive a lot less in revenue this year than in years’ past and given the costs many teams have, their costs will exceed their revenues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at the offers being made with skepticism and when there is a coordinated PR effort for owner sympathy, it’s fair to look at what is driving that as well.


Quarantino Martinez: How does the NBA have a plan to reopen before MLB?! Those players have to sweat all over each other, play indoors, touch the same ball… Ugh!


Craig Edwards: They have a plan to reopen, but they aren’t actually starting until the end of July. MLB could still very well beat them. It’s also difficult to compare the two. If this happened in the middle of August and most of the baseball season had already been played, finishing the season would be a lot easier to figure out.


Craig Edwards: That doesn’t excuse all the dragging of the feet by the owners, but they are different situations.


Steven: What is your take on some states, like Texas, seeming to encourage partial fans in stands, and others, like California, forbidding them?


Craig Edwards: It doesn’t seem like the greatest idea to me to let fans back in. I’m sure there are some safety measures that could be taken to let some fans in, but then you have to enforce mask wearing, which is absolutely necessary, and things get a little difficult.


henry: What are the odds you think the playoffs are completed this season? If it’s over 25%, that makes the MLB owners’ most recent offer the best of their offers (or floated offers) so far. Something you didn’t seem to want to acknowledge.


Craig Edwards: I think you still have to separate guaranteed money from contingent money when you consider what offer is better. If the odds of completing the playoffs is 75%, then the monetary value of the latest offer might be $100 million higher than the first offer (which was a really bad offer), but how much risk should you take on when you have very limited opportunities to make money in your career. Might the greater guarantee still be better?


Craig Edwards: In free agency, some players might prefer a 2/20 deal rather than a 1/13. Are the odds good that they’ll earn more  than 7 if they hit free agency again? Probably, but many might prefer not to take that risk if they don’t have to.


Craig Edwards: It’s also sort of moot when the offer is worse than a 54-game season that MLB is holding over your head.


HS vs College: It always baffles me why teams pick HS developmental projects vs high upside college arms or bats. Wouldn’t teams want guys closer to the show vs waiting 4-5 years? Thanks!


Craig Edwards: They all take time to develop and the fact that the college player is three years older might imply for a lot of players that the upside isn’t as high as a high schooler who could turn into a star. Taking either is fine and most college players take a bunch of years to get to the majors as well.


Isolated Thinker: So in a 50-60 game season,  we can see playoff spots being clinched/teams mathematically eliminated just a few weeks into the season.  Teams eliminated early with RSN may see their TV revenue drop dramatically.  Is this a good reason for the owners to agree to more games, or is it all about getting to the postseason ASAP?


Craig Edwards: Not really. RSN’s don’t make much money from ratings/advertising. They just need to be carried by the local cable providers. That’s where their money comes from.


Derek: Assuming baseball does come back, what do you think happens with at-risk players like Carrasco or Duvall?  Will it totally be up to them whether they decide to play?


Craig Edwards: Yes. They should be able to opt-out and still receive salary and service time.


Dave: Passan had a story on ESPN about the owners losing $640,000 per game.  However, unlike your article on the 640K loss, he fails to mention playoff money and central revenues.  That just seems sloppy.


Craig Edwards: His piece used that figure as a starting point for trying to figure out the gap between the players and the owners based on games played. He never claimed it included national revenue as that wasn’t his goal. He found the sides to be about $326 million apart in a 48-game season compared to an 82-game season. It was a clever way to find the differences. Then the owners, looked at that $326 million gap and went a billion dollars in the other direction.


Quarantino Martinez: Apropos of your Avatar: went to see Groundhog Day last night (at a drive-in theater, don’t worry) and Ned is still a star, even if you want to punch him in the face that one time.


Craig Edwards: That’s great to hear.


Craig Edwards: We will wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all the questions.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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3 years ago

How much money will the owners save by the agreement that players who are not drafted get no more than $20,000? And add to that the savings from cutting so many minor league teams.